For an evening the Belly Up was ear-bleeding country.
Opening the evening for Dinosaur Jr. was Heron Oblivion. They delivered an understated set that was both entrancing and hypnotic. Their songs drew strength from sustained builds that climaxed in loud, chaotic fashion. They displayed a wide range of influences without comprising tonal continuity. However, they remained largely expressionless throughout the show.
Their interactions with the crowd were mostly limited to saying thank you after every few songs. Juxtaposed against the caustic, psychedelic, noisiness of their set were the hauntingly ethereal vocals of drummer Meg Baird. Meg’s voice emerged like a siren surrounded by crashing ships. By the time Heron Oblivion finished their set, the Belly Up had filled and the crowd embraced them with applause.
Dinosaur Jr. followed with a headlining set that spanned their illustrious discography, balancing the old with the new. Behind them, a wall of amplifiers brought to reality the idea of a wall of sound. Their shows are endearingly referred to as “ear-bleeding country” by many of their fans, an aphorism they earned with their relentlessly loud set. J Mascis may not be an exceptional singer, but his guitar playing had enough character and holistic, punk rock vigor to carry the songs.
He played in a way that felt simultaneously antagonistic and tender-spirited. J Mascis stuck largely to his spot on the stage. He seemed wholly immersed in his playing, the taciturn man being shed for the shamanistic guitar player. There was less showmanship to be found in their presence than in their playing, the band choosing instead to let the music speak for itself. Dinosaur Jr. illustrated a propensity for genre diversity while sticking to the despotic drawl of noise, feedback, and guitar virtuosity that made them famous.